Archive | April 2016

Entertainment vs. Escapism

Baby Bub asked me what was the name of the tv show I was watching tonight. The same one I’ve been watching back to back episodes damn near every night for the last month or so. She’s asked me that question before and I’ve told her the answer each time. But apparently she wanted to make a point because when I told her it was called NYPD Blue, she told me I needed to go to NYPD Anonymous. In other words, she thinks I have a problem. She’s probably right.images (1)

It started a few months ago when I caught a mini marathon of the show on a Sunday afternoon. NYPD Blue was one of my favorite shows back in the day. I watched it from its debut through the series finale. The 15th precinct and its occupants were appointment viewing for me, as most of my favorite tv shows have always been. Watching that mini marathon sucked me right back into that gritty, realistic modern day universe of good vs. evil and all the gray in between. All the intensity of the storylines, the emotions it provoked, and the extreme sense of nostalgia felt terrific. I remember excitedly telling Dawny about catching the mini marathon and about the characters.

Then I went on about my life, occasionally catching a few episodes here and there on the weekends. Always stopping to watch them. About two months ago I discovered another channel that played back to back episodes from 8:00-10:00 pm every night, Sunday through Saturday. And slowly but surely I started watching it every night. Baby Bub would complain now and again, but I would retort back that she is addicted to a whole host of reality shows. That would shut her up.

I not sure what else to say about my latest obsession. Television has always been a part of my life. Too much television has definitely been a problem from time to time. What can I say? I’m an alcoholic and an addict. There is always a fine line between entertainment and escapism. Escapism is a part of what I do when I’m not doing great and its a part of what I do when I am doing great.relaxation-391656__180

I also happen to get caught up in the NBA Playoffs this time of year. Especially when my team is playing this time of year, which they are. As long as I’m still showing up for the things I’m supposed to show up for, then it’s my right to choose my entertainment. Or even my escapism.

I still pray and meditate in the morning. I finally made it back to yoga classes. I’m walking again at work on my breaks. I’m making it to my meetings and fulfilling my service commitments. I’m writing my blogs. I’m getting together with my spiritual advisor and my therapist. I’m still moving forward and living my life.

Plus I think Baby Bub just wants to watch the big screen tv in the living room instead of her little rinky dink tv in her room.

More Miami Heat and The Bigger Picture

basket-821529__180After a day or two to process my team’s spectacularly, humiliating second half play in the final game of their season where they blew a 26-point lead and fell to Boston yet still got the favorable #3 seed by default, I’ve got some perspective. I read a quote by our coach, Erik Spoelstra addressing the team’s performance and the unexpected resulting favorable playoff berth.

“If you look at the big picture all of us are still feeling the second half, but the reality is you don’t get it by default. You earn it during the regular season by winning the games that you need to in a very close race. It’s been a wild regular season for us. I think we’ve grown quite a bit. Our group is very connected even though the second half went a little haywire. But I love seeing this group grow together during the regular season. We’ll take that third seed and the home court and we do feel good about that.”

I truly love and respect what he is about as a coach and a man. I was able to breathe easier about My Boyz and about myself after I read his quote. A game isn’t lost on a single last minute play that didn’t win it and a season isn’t defined by a lousy second half in the final game. The Heat played 81 previous games this season and they did win some close games they needed to win as well as lose some games they should have won. They show an unremitting willingness to take responsibility for their losses by watching film and figuring out how to respond better moving forward. I also love Miami Heat All-Star guard Dwayne Wade’s quote about losing to Boston in their final game.

“I’ve been in the league 13 years,” he said, “I’ve seen it all. It’s a good team. They beat us three times this year. That’s not our opponent the next time we step on the ball court. so it doesn’t matter.”

So let’s step back and look at MY bigger picture. I’ve been clean and sober for 19 years. I’ve had a stable work history in the same industry for the past 16 years, counting the 9 years at my present job. I’ve been in therapy for two years and some change. I’ve faced the deep unhappiness with my life and the many unhealthy self-destructive ways I developed to deal, or not deal with my unhappiness. I manage my chronic medical conditions so they don’t hinder my lifestyle or the pursuit of my goals.  I write a blog three times a week. I am of service to my community on a weekly and monthly basis. I am a good, loving parent, friend, daughter, sister and all around human being.yoga-1234521__180

With reframing my life in regards to what’s coming next with the yoga teacher training, I’m fucking good. If I can build a stable work history in an industry that I kind of fell into, then I can damn sure use that same work ethic to pursue something my heart desires! I don’t have to pressure myself with exactly how it will get paid for or what the training will look like. I need to shift my focus towards trusting where God and my heart have lead me so far because it’s a damn good place.

When Disappointing Effort Yields A Desirable Result

miami-heat-logo-wallpaper-1024x768I’m pretty pissed off because my team, the Miami Heat just lost in a spectacularly humiliating fashion on National television. It was the final game of the season with playoff seeding and home court advantage on the line. I rushed home from work to watch the game on ESPN and managed to catch the end of the first quarter. We were up by 20 points. The second quarter was more of the same and we were ahead 24 points at half time! The analysts on ESPN, the NBA channel and online were all talking about how the Heat were taking care of business. The third quarter started. The Boston Celtics scored 2 points, then we scored 3 points and were ahead by 26. After that, the Celtics outscored us 23-2 and we were only ahead by 4 points at the start of the fourth and final quarter. It was frustrating, painful and sickening to watch them implode. I kept screaming the same thing the ESPN analysts were saying incredulously: why on earth did they stop passing the ball to each other, which was how they got such a huge lead over Boston in the first half of the game? It was all hero ball, isolation plays and horrible, lousy shots that were not going in the basket. They scored five points on two made baskets for the entire third quarter. FIVE POINTS. I couldn’t watch after that. I turned to my other television haven, HGTV to watch Property Brothers: Buying & Selling. Once I knew the game was over I checked online to discover we’d lost by 10 points, but get this… We still ended up with the desired #3 seed in the Eastern Conference because another team, the Atlanta Hawks, was playing for the same seeding and lost their game too. This gave them the same 48-34 win-loss record as Miami and Miami wins the tiebreaker based on a bunch of criteria that would bore non-basketball folk. The #3 seeding in the NBA Playoffs, which start this weekend, means we play the first two games at home in Miami. This is key because the Heat plays phenomenally at home, not so much on the road. As tonight’s AWAY game in Boston proved.

Most of my family and friends know how passionate I am about my Miami Heat but they don’t know is exactly why. The team and organization came to my attention when a very famous basketball player went to play for them in 2010. I was a huge fan of that basketball player and his move to the Miami Heat generate a huge uproar. I became impressed with how they handled all the massive amounts of attention, most of it negative. I watched them get to the NBA Finals four years in a row and win two Championship titles. Through it all, they handled it with professionalism, consistency, perseverance and persistent striving for excellence. Even when the famous player left the Miami Heat to go elsewhere, I remained a devoted, passionate member of Heat Nation. They are an organization which prides itself on no drama, choosing quality PERSONALITIES to fit their organization, working hard, helping it’s community, being accountable, innovative and versatile when necessary. Shit, even when they lose they somehow end up winning.you-win-1143113__180

As much as I hate to admit it, I am much like my team. I can be going along like gangbusters with my life, working towards a goal or ah hem, Mission, then BAM! For seemingly no reason, I start to lose momentum and by the time I’m aware of it or decide to do something about it, it’s too late. I’ve screwed up or blown off an opportunity. So far I haven’t screwed up or blown off anything yet, but I’m headed there with Yoga Teacher Training. Suddenly I’m caught up in the fear of not having the money or if I do get the money part squared away, then I may not be physically able to successfully complete the training. I still haven’t been back to my home yoga studio for any classes in over three weeks. Good thing I have an appointment with my kick-ass therapist tomorrow! I’ve got work to do. I have a feeling, just like the Heat, that Life may end up giving me a desirable result despite my disappointing efforts of late.beyond-612464__180

Getting Closer

alive-460918__180Once my life was full of bad days with a few good moments. Now it’s full of good days with a few bad moments. I used to say this a lot with such conviction years ago because it was true at the time. It’s even more so today, but the seemingly unending stress and unhappiness with my job plus my fear of the future causes me to forget this essential truth. I used to be a serious fuck up with just about everything in my life. Most of my fucking up took the form of extreme irresponsibility or procrastination on a personal level. I never had a chance to screw up professionally because I was incapable of getting a decent job and any job I did get, I ended up blowing off with inferior work or absenteeism. I also excelled at Expert Level procrastination. I’ve had my gas and electric turned off, in early recovery, while employed because I ignored bills. I never checked my kids homework or made sure it got done. As a consequence, they were poor students and parent-teacher progress conferences were almost always excruciating and embarrassing. The boys were always failing or doing poorly in at least half of their classes. Around the same time, I ignored a rodent problem so bad in our townhouse that eventually the kids called me home from a meeting because they found a huge dead rat underneath our dining room table. I had to remove it myself. That was one of the final straws and became a rallying point for me. I called my owner about the rodent problem, I got better about paying my bills and little by little I became a more responsible parent. I told myself there would be “No More Dead Rat Days”. To this day, it is something I say to get myself  back on track when I feel myself slipping on my responsibilities.

I may still get a little pissy and resentful about unexpected responsibilities that come up like changes in my new tax status as a Single with No Dependents. But the bigger truth is it came about because I’ve shown up consistently and put in a good faith effort to be a productive employee for 9 years. I was headed toward this status anyway with Baby Bub being 20 years old and my income level increasing every year. I’m making more money now than I thought possible given I was on Welfare 17 years ago.signs-1172209__180

I ran my last car, a 2007 Dodge Caliber into the ground because I was a little too irresponsible with its upkeep. I never got the 30K or 60K mile tune-ups. I didn’t even know they existed. The time between oil changes kept getting longer and longer until something blew in my engine one morning when I was almost to work. It sounded like a bag of hammers under the hood when I pressed the gas pedal to get the last two miles to my work parking lot. Most of you who read my blog know this backstory. I had already been cleaning up my credit and saving for a down payment, but I wasn’t quite ready. Or so I thought. But I ended up getting a decent deal on a rental car until I found an even better deal on a brand new 2014 Mazda 3. I didn’t need to use all of my savings for the down payment, I got the finance rate I wanted (1.9%) and the monthly payment I needed. I’ve been conscientious, if not diligent about this car’s upkeep. The oil changes are on time and I’ve had the 30k mile tune-up with a local mechanic I trust. I’m due for another tune-up and new tires so I made an appointment to take my car in on my next payday.

It feels good to be a responsible, productive member of society who is of service to her community. But the icing on the cake? The cherry on top? I am loved and connected beyond my wildest dreams to wonderfully amazing souls that are family and friends. In the grand scheme of things, my life IS full of good days with a few bad moments. Each day that I make the responsible choice, the good choice and the right choice brings me closer to who my Higher Power calls me to be. And the days when I’m not so responsible? I learn and I grow from that, in order to make better choices. Which still brings me closer to who I am supposed to be. How about that?alive-927077__180

This entry was posted on April 12, 2016. 3 Comments

Taking Care of Business and Pissin’ My Pants

I’m a procrastinator, not as bad as I used to be, thank God. But it’s still a part of my modus operandi in dealing with unpleasant, complicated and difficult tasks, be they personal or professional. Here are two cases in point.tax-468440__180

The first was my taxes. I’ve always filed my taxes as early as possibly, usually at the end of January but no later than the second week of February. I always got refunds so I wanted my money as early as possible to do all manner of things depending on how much I got back. I was counting on this year’s refund to pay for my yoga teacher training, which will cost $2400-$3000 for any decent program. Imagine the utter shock and dismay I felt when I went on Turbo Tax online at the end of January to discover I OWE the federal government for the first time ever. Baby Bub dropped out of college last year in March, she was not a student for five months of the year, and she made more than $4000 at her job at Dunkin Donuts/Baskin Robbins. This disqualified her as a dependent. Which disqualified me from filing as Head of Household, designating me to Single status. To add insult to injury, I was teaching her how to file her own taxes this year, so she was sitting with me at the computer when Turbo Tax delivered this life altering news. I did not handle it well. I shut down, went to my room and slammed the door. She asked if she should do her taxes. I told her to go for it but insisted she wait to actually file them until after I talked to a co-worker who is certified to do taxes on the side. Did I mention I didn’t handle it well? The next day I checked with my co-worker who confirmed what Turbo Tax told me. Baby Bub is entitled to her full refund, though. When I got home that night I told her she could file her taxes but I wanted $100.00 of her refund. She agreed. Then I refused to file mine. I erased what I’d entered from their site and ignored the occasional emails from Turbo Tax telling me they had my User ID available to make filing easy. My plan was to save money from each paycheck until I had the amount needed to pay what I owed. By my calculations that put me right around now, roughly a week and some change before the filing deadline. And so tonight, I bit the bullet, redid my taxes and paid the Federal government what I owed as a Single with No Dependents. You know what? It felt good to finally face what I had to and git er done.

My second case in point? As part of my secretary duties for my 12 step Sunday morning meeting, I collect and keeping track of our weekly monetary contributions. Once the contributions hit $200.00 I am supposed to divide it among five entities within our organization and send checks. I reimburse the coffee maker for coffee supplies purchased out of his  pocket as long as he provides receipts and I keep our meeting supplied with tokens and literature as well. I hate bookkeeping. It’s tedious, so I procrastinate. Last week I finally used some of the contributions to buy the meeting replacement tokens. However, I have yet to divide any money among the five entities and send them checks. I confessed this to my best friend Dawny, who handles similar duties for an organization she goes to. I’d stopped by her place after work tonight to deliver cupcakes, our latest addiction (which she TOTALLY started with that damn cupcake run last weekend) and to share my leftover Thai food from lunch with her for dinner. We got to eat, talk and enjoy each other’s company. I was telling her my plans to go home and do my taxes, then some packs-163497__180meditation/reflection on things before writing my blog. As I was walking out to my car, I told her tomorrow I’d be spending the morning organizing the money from my Sunday meeting so I could send it off to the five entities. She said she had to do the same for her meeting and asked how much mine was. I told her we’re supposed to send money whenever it reaches $200, but I had over $600 in the bag. Her shocked expression and exclamation were so hilarious to me that I bent over howling with laughter, trying not to piss my pants. She started laughing too, which made me drop to her floor because the urge to pee got stronger. She asked how long I’d been secretary and I told her since September between bouts of laughter and that I was going to piss my pants. She yelled at me to stop laughing because I would make her fall to the ground laughing too. That’s when I pissed my pants a little, actually more than a little. Thank God for panty liners!!! As I walked away I reminded her that I was her Associate Treasurer on the Board of the community organization we serve. More laughter between us, maybe she even peed a little over that one.

As I pouted and procrastinated, I took steps in February to adjust my withholding, signed up for a Flexible Spending Account and increased the percentage of my 401k contributions as an acknowledgment of my new tax filing status and hope to avoid paying next year. As for the secretary bookkeeping duties, I’m getting around to it now aren’t I? Plus once I do it, it will be simpler and easier for me to do it at the proper time from here on out. Or at least, before I pass my commitment on to the next secretary in September. I strive for progress, not perfection. And learn to laugh along the way.

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This entry was posted on April 9, 2016. 1 Comment